It’s a frog family tradition to welcome the New Year in an Orlando area theme park. We enjoy hopping around every year to see how each park celebrates the event. We’ve learned that this is one of those nights that everyone, parks and people, celebrates differently. We really enjoy parades, entertainment, attractions and fireworks while being surrounded by thousands of people. Yet some folks prefer a delightful dinner with friends and family. That’s fine as well (we're judgement-free frogs). Whether it's in the parks, at parties or at dinners, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the New Year at Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld and the rest of the area theme parks. So this New Year's Eve, pick your pleasure and enjoy!
Here’s a run-down of the festivities during New Year’s Eve at Disney World and the other parks ... plus tips!
New Year's Eve at Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom is the most popular park and will be the most crowded on New Year’s Eve. If this is your park of choice, we recommend you arrive early and stay all day since it is likely to reach capacity for some part of the day. Be sure to read our post about the parks' closing procedures! Save your viewing spot for parades and stage shows at least an hour in advance. No matter which park you are in, make sure to use FastPass+! For those who want to celebrate a little bit early, Fantasy in the Sky fireworks, which takes place 10 minutes before midnight, will be shown Dec. 30.
Park Hours: 8 a.m.-1 a.m.; EMH (Extra Magic Hours) 7 a.m.-8 a.m.
Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party: 9:30 a.m. & 1:45 p.m.
Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks: 11:50 p.m. (also shown on Dec. 30 at 11:50 p.m.)
Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade: 12 p.m. & 3:30 p.m.
New Year's Countdown Fireworks at 11:45 p.m.
New Year's Eve at Epcot
The Frog Family is all about discovering new experiences and cultures. For that reason, Epcot
is our choice for New Year’s Eve. World Showcase goes all out in giving guests a New Year’s Eve with an international flair. You can catch a smoke-billowing dragon in China, dance to Euro-pop and a laser show in Italy, enjoy Latin tunes from a band and DJ at the America Gardens Stage. As for crowds, Epcot is the largest of all Disney parks and can hold the most people. It won't be as packed as Magic Kingdom or Disney's Hollywood Studios and it has plenty of places to sit down, eat and relax. A special version of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth fireworks & light show will be even more spectacular than normal (and that’s saying something).
Park Hours: 8 a.m.-1 a.m.
Illuminations: Reflections of Earth Fireworks: 6:00 p.m., 11:40 p.m.
Epcot New Year's Eve Dining
Each of the following restaurants is offering special New Year's Eve menus. Reservations are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by calling 407-WDW-DINE.
La Hacienda de San Angel: Seating starts at 9:30 p.m. for a five-course, surf and turf dinner with alcohol pairings, including a welcome margarita. There is a live mariachi band and a view of the fireworks.
Le Cellier Steakhouse: Four-course meal with dinner seatings at 4:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 9 p.m. Lunch is also served from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Monsieur Paul: A three-course, prix-fixe menu with seatings at 11:45 a.m., noon, 2:15 p.m., 2:45 p.m., 5:45, 6:15 p.m., 8:45 p.m., 9:40 p.m.
New Year’s Ever World at Epcot World ShowPlace : This dinner buffet features A variety of soups and salads, fish, chicken, pork and turkey breast plus sides and a dessert station. There are kid-friendly favorites plus photo ops and classic Disney tunes.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
A close runner-up to Magic Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios will be very crowded on New Year’s Eve. While it will be busy, there are lots of entertainment options. To ensure a seat in the Fantasmic! Theater, you’ll need to get in line at least one and a half hours early. The park is also scheduled to have BOTH of its nighttime spectaculars running. Decide if you’re in the mood for Star Wars or Santa’s Elves and get your spot in front of the Chinese Theater at least an hour early.
Park Hours: 8 a.m.-midnight
Fantasmic!: 8:00 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.
Center Stage Dance Party: Begins at 7:00 p.m.
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular: 12 a.m.
Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! : 9:00 p.m.
New Year's Eve at Disney's Animal Kingdom
If you have little ones who won't be awake when the clock strikes midnight or you just aren't as into crowds and New Year's Eve celebrations, this is the park for you! Disney's Animal Kingdom doesn't have any special events, and closes early compared to the others parks. It won't be as crowded, so you can catch some Disney park fun and still make your bedtime.
Park Hours: 8 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
New Year's Eve at Disney Springs
Enjoy casual and upscale dining, shopping and entertainment, and spectacular holiday decor during Holidays at Disney Springs. While special New Year's Eve dining has not yet been announced, you can still plan a night out. If you want to dine at Disney Springs and cannot find a reservation through Disney World, some of the restaurants are on Open Table.
Starbright Holidays | An Intel Collaboration: 7:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
New Year's Eve at the Disney Resorts
Disney’s Contemporary Resort will be party central for Disney Countdown to Midnight. This all-ages party includes bites and wine parings from restaurants such as California Grill, Flying Fish Cafe and Narcoossee’s. Musical acts, from an interactive DJ to the group Alter Ego will entertain thought the night. There will be an assortment of adult beverages throughout the evening, which ends outdoors with a viewing of the Magic Kingdom’s New Year’s Eve “Fantasy in the Sky” Fireworks Spectacular.
Disney Resorts New Year's Eve Dining Options
Each of the following are offering special New Year's Eve menus. Reservations are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and can be made by calling 407-WDW-DINE.
California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort
Chef Mickey's at Disney's Contemporary Resort
Garden Grove at Walt Disney World Swan Hotel
Il Mulino at Walt Disney World Swan Hotel
Shula’s Steak House at Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
Todd English’s bluezoo at Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
Victoria & Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
New Year's Eve at Universal's Islands of Adventure
Our Frog Family enjoys ringing in the New Year with thrills and adventure. Both Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure will be open later, so you'll have extra time to enjoy the rides, shows and dining. Be prepared for lines and crowds, as you can expect both parks to be packed.
While Universal's Islands of Adventure does not offer any New Year Eve events, you can enjoy the park's signature holiday event, Grinchmas.
Park Hours: 8 a.m.-11 p.m.
The Grinchmas™ Who-Liday Spectacular: 10:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 1:45 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m.
New Year's Eve at Universal Studios Florida
Celebrate the final few moments of the holiday season with the Macy’s Holiday Parade and then prepare to ring in the New Year! A special end-of-year version of Universal's Cinematic Spectacular is scheduled for 11:59 p.m.
Park Hours: 8 a.m.-12:30 a.m.
A Barney Holiday: 11:30 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4:15 p.m.
Blues Brothers Holiday Christmas Show: 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:40 p.m. & 3:40 p.m.
Macy’s Holiday Parade: 5 p.m.
Universal Cinematic Spectacular: Midnight
New Year's Eve at Universal CityWalk (8 p.m.-2 a.m.)
Eve, Universal CityWalk Orlando’s signature New Year’s Eve celebration is going to shine a bit brighter this year. Wearable Tech LED Wristbands will be given out, letting everyone participate in a party-wide light show. Eve features six different party zones, each with its own signature drinks. Six clubs will be bringing live music along with unlimited gourmet cuisine, Orlando's biggest outdoor dance floor with M-Squared DJing, a midnight champagne toast and pyrotechnics display. This separately ticketed event is for 21 and up. Leave the tadpoles at the resort's activity centers or use an in-room sitter.
New Year's Eve at SeaWorld Orlando
If you like celebrating Christmas right up to January, then you’ll enjoy ringing in the New Year at SeaWorld Orlando. With its Christmas Celebration lasting through New Year's Eve, SeaWorld Orlando is a great place to celebrate. There are plenty of holiday shows to see, and it should be less crowded than Disney World or Universal Orlando. Stay warm and watch its special fireworks show at midnight.
Park Hours: 9 a.m.-12:30 a.m.
Sea of Trees: 6 p.m., 7:20 p.m., 8:05 p.m. & 8:55 p.m.
Waterfront snowflurries: 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7:25 p.m. & 8:15 p.m.
Clyde & Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas: 6:45 p.m., 8:15 p.m.
Elmo's Christmas Wish: 3 p.m., 4:45 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 8 p.m.
O Wondrous Night: 6 p.m., 8 p.m., 9:30 p.m.
Shamu Christmas Miracles: 10:00 a.m, 8:30 p.m.
Winter Wonderland on Ice: 11:25 a.m., 6:45 p.m., 9:45 p.m.
Holiday Reflections: Fireworks and Fountains Finale: Midnight
New Year's Eve at Busch Gardens Tampa
We frogs like to think we're real party animals, but if you really want to party with animals on New Year’s Eve, there is Busch Gardens. Take on thrill rides such as Cobra’s Curse, Falcon’s Fury or Cheetah Hunt as DJs spin music throughout the park. Join in the park-wide countdown to the New Year and catch a spectacular midnight fireworks celebration in Gwazi Park. Tampa is about 70 miles from the Disney area, so plan your travels accordingly.
Park Hours: 9 a.m.-1 a.m.
One of the most kid-friendly New Year’s Eve celebrations in the area happens at LEGOLAND Florida.is a kid-friendly celebration that includes fireworks and a dance party DJ. The giant LEGO ball drops at the kid-friendly hour of 7 p.m. You can get an early start on seeing the fireworks nightly between Dec. 24-30. Be sure to get a pair of special 3D glasses to see millions of tiny LEGO brick bursts during the performance. Winter Haven is about 37 miles from the Disney area, so plan your travels.
Park Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
LEGO Ball drop: 7 p.m.
All times listed below are subject to change. Here's hoping you have a great time during New Year's Eve at Disney World and beyond. Wherever you decide to ring in the New Year, have a hoppin’ good time and stay safe!